April 1, 2010

All Windows 7 RTM Driver Kit Resources Republished

After more than half a year of work, Microsoft has reached an important stage with its plans to refresh the resources offered under the Windows Driver Kit umbrella to developers. Jim Travis, group content publishing manager Windows Hardware and Devices, explains that the end of March was synonymous with the republishing of all the Windows Driver Kit documentation on MSDN Library. The move is designed to align the source docs to the same XML-based content management and authoring system leveraged by the Windows SDK team. However, Travis underlined that the refreshed documentation was not only set up to kick up a notch the authoring and content management system for Microsoft, but to also benefit developers by offering them updated syntax and header information, enhanced abstracts for search results, and better content formatting.

“The kit documentation contains over 32,000 topics. The former system, which we called CAPE, used a hybrid of Microsoft Word and a very loose XML schema. Without a straightforward way to map between XML elements in the old and new schemas, transforming that much content introduced all sorts of issues. It took at least 30 people to get us to the point where we're comfortable republishing this content, and much of what they had to do ended up being painstaking, manual, page-by-page repairs,” Travis stated.

The Windows Driver Kit Resources is designed to streamline driver development on top of Windows 7, but also Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2008 SP1, Windows Vista SP1, Windows XP SP3, Windows Server 2003 SP2, and Windows XP Professional x64 Edition. Devs that have so far turned to MSDN for access to WDK will be able to both take advantage of the refreshed documentation, and also provide feedback to Microsoft on the changes introduced. Travis underlined that, while Microsoft strived to do as best a job as possible, various issues were to be expected. And while the company republished the MSDN documentation, it did not do the same to the EXE or CHM files, which can still be used if devs run into bugs.

“Here are some other things that we think you should know about: on our reference pages, we regenerated all the syntax blocks from the WDK headers - the syntax in the new docs should be a much better match to the headers than what we published before. A side effect, though, is that some new members may appear that do not yet have complete descriptions. New description metadata will provide improved search functionality on any search engine – using search to find information will continue to yield the old documentation for a few days. To see the new documentation, you will need to browse to it by using the MSDN left-pane navigation. The old documentation will be replaced with ‘Content Moved’ pages that provide a link to the new, replacement page – over time, these redirector pages will stop showing up in search results, which will favor the new topics,” Travis explained.

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